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Zero Waste Cities Collaborative

In February 2017, CAG joined a collaborative of ten cities in India, Indonesia and the Phillipines that will work to reduce plastic pollution on land and in our oceans through (1) ward-level waste audits, (2) data collection on problematic plastic waste in oceans and rivers. Using data from multiple sites and some product research, our project will publicly identify these products/materials in order to catalyse much-needed innovation in product/packaging design.

Plastic waste constitutes between 60% and 80% of marine debris and is “one of the world’s most pervasive pollution problems impacting our oceans and waterways,” according to the U.N. Much of this waste enters from countries in the Asia Pacific region, where rapid urbanization, growth of megacities, increased consumption, extensive coastlines and waterways, and minimal waste infrastructure cause high levels of plastic leakage into oceans. Up to 90% of seabirds today have plastic in their stomachs, and this will reach 99% by 2050 under current projections of plastic production and disposal. Unless we take action to slow and ultimately stop plastic pollution at its source, there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050. The vast majority of plastic waste originates on land, and reaches the oceans because of unsustainable product design and inadequate waste management systems. It is clear that a dramatic intervention is needed, one which demonstrates transformative zero waste systems at the local level and uses data to drive sustainable redesign of production and consumption. 

We will conduct thorough waste audits at chosen impact sites to identify specific problem materials. To complement ward-level audits, we will identify what materials are most commonly littered or escape the waste stream and enter our oceans. A thorough waste audit will identify specific problem materials (for example sachets, coffee capsules, juice boxes, Styrofoam for take-out food, etc.). We will also undertake an analysis of brand data in waste audits in order to advocate for producer responsibility of waste. Currently, there is no good method or policy for handling post-consumer waste like styrofoam, tetrapaks, and non woven polypropylene. These materials break down into tiny pieces and find their way to water bodies and the ocean.  However, there is insufficient data on the quantity of products being consumed and discarded, alternative policies to reduce leakage into oceans, availability of alternative products or services, and information on consumer behavior in the market. Using this data, we will produce a report on producer responsibility options.

“Zeroing in on Waste” will reduce marine plastic pollution through high-impact zero waste projects and data analysis that analyses a mix of urban waste streams, beaches and waterways. This work is also important because of the co-benefits that zero waste systems include for public health and economic growth. It includes increased recognition for and formal integration of the informal waste workers whose critical environmental efforts have previously gone under the radar. This will include issuance of official identity cards, which allows them access to critical services and fewer legal obstacles.

How Chennai is diverting its non-biodegradable waste from its dumpyards

The Zero Waste Chennai (ZWC) initiative focuses on decentralised waste management and resource recovery. Since its initiation, the city has faced several challenges in different domains: source segregation, door-to-door collection, transportation, storage, waste management infrastructure, processing and disposal. The challenges are unique and necessitate a separate way to deal with each. When...know more

Overcoming Challenges faced whilst mapping Zone 8, Chennai

In May 2019, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) and the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) collaborated to launch the Zero Waste Chennai initiative. One of the key principles of the new decentralised waste management system is door-to-door collection of household and commercial entity waste, and for bulk waste generators to set up in situ facilities. To track this, we are enumerating...know more

Five ways Chennai Corporation can improve its Plastic Waste Management (PWM) by-laws

“Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me” - the lyrics of an old love song can easily be the song for plastics, dubbed as the miraculous material, the magic material, and a marvel in our modern world. Owing to its multiple uses and unique physical and chemical properties, plastic has seen huge commercial success. Unfortunately, this has led to its indiscriminate use and disposal, resulting in a...know more

Zero Waste Team’s Trip to Thanal

  Team CAG with team Thanal at their office in Trivandrum From 14 to 16, October 2017, CAG’s Zero Waste Team, composed of Ariel, Durga, Kripa, Samantha, Sriram, and Sudipta, went to visit Thanal in Trivandrum. This was for the team to understand how Thanal has been instrumental in helping the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation set up an effective zero waste management system in place...know more

Solid Waste Management Bye-laws for Chennai: A Quick Appraisal

  Image 1: Mound of mixed waste at Kodungaiyur dump yard, Chennai "The Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules, 2016, postulate preparation of a State Policy and solid waste management strategy for the State or the Union Territory in consultation with stakeholders. The Solid Waste Management Rules came into force on 8 April 2016. We are two years down the line but we are shocked to know...know more

Benchmarking the in Vitro Toxicity and Chemical Composition of Plastic Consumer Products

It's a well-known fact that consumer plastics and plastic packaging contain compounds that are toxic. In addition to this, there are many chemicals in each plastic product that remain largely unidentified. Till date a comprehensive characterization of the complex chemical mixtures present in plastics is missing and this study aims at creating baseline for the same. Spoiler alert! Compostable...know more

The health impacts of waste incineration: a systematic review

Waste incineration is increasingly promoted as a sustainable solution for waste management through out the world even though it is at the bottom of the waste hierarchy. This study highlights how incinerator technology and infrequent maintenance schedules have been strongly linked with adverse health effects. Waste minimisation is the need of the hour! know more

Evaluation of GCC's SWM tender

This document includes correspondence with the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) about the SWM tender and the GCC Solid Waste Management tender evaluation done by CAG.  know more

Salient Features of SWM Rules 2016 and Annual Report Submission Process

This document explains the salient features of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. It includes the duties, responsibilities, and process of the operator of the facility of recycling or recovering unit, local bodies, State and Central Pollution Control Board by submitting the annual report to the Central Government. know more

Waste Audit at an Educational Institution in Chennai

The management and faculty at Dr.P.Venkataramana Higher Secondary School, Pughs Road were interested in managing their waste better. CAG researchers undertake a waste and brand audit, and the results showed practical ways to manage their organic waste in situ and reduce all inorganic waste. know more